Hong Kong shuts down as powerful typhoon sweeps past; at least 3 killed

A powerful typhoon has caused at least three deaths in Macau, according to local authorities in the Chinese gambling enclave.

Three men, aged 30, 45 and 62, were killed in falls and accidents related to the heavy rain and gusting winds from Typhoon Hato, and two other people were listed as missing, Macau's Government Information Bureau said.

Typhoon Hato came within 37 miles (60km) of Hong Kong - close enough to be considered a direct hit under Hong Kong's storm warning system. It was headed toward the western side of mainland China's Pearl River Delta.

Typhoon Hato came within 37 miles (60km) of Hong Kong - close enough to be considered a direct hit under Hong Kong's storm warning system. It was headed toward the western side of mainland China's Pearl River Delta.

Weather authorities raised the No 10 hurricane signal, the highest level, for the first time in five years.

By midday, Hato was packing maximum sustained winds of 78mph (126kph), with gusts of up to 129mph (207kph) on some outlying islands.

The warning forced businesses, government offices, schools and courts to shut and the stock market to suspend trading, leaving the Asian financial centre's normally bustling streets eerily quiet.

People play with strong wind caused by Typhoon Hato on the waterfront of Victoria Habour in Hong Kong. Pictures: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Airlines cancelled 450 flights and ferry operators halted commuter services and routes to the nearby Chinese gambling centre of Macau and cities in the delta.

Hato's fierce gales brought down trees, overturned rubbish bins and blew out windows on skyscrapers, raining shattered glass on to the streets below.

The No 10 signal has only been hoisted 14 other times since 1946, or one for every 72 storms, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. The last time it went up was for Typhoon Vicente in 2012.

The observatory warned residents to be prepared for destructive winds, possible flooding and landslips, and advised people to stay away from low-lying areas because storm surges could cause severe flooding. Streets and village laneways in areas near the sea were submerged by waves crashing ashore, according to local TV news footage.

Hato was skirting south of Hong Kong and was expected to make landfall in China's Guangdong province. Thousands of people were evacuated from parts of the mainland coast ahead of the storm's arrival, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Train services were cancelled, fishing boats returned to harbour and more than 4,000 fish farmers and their families came to shore, Xinhua said. Waves up to 33ft (10m) high were expected in the South China Sea, the agency said.

A man takes pictures against strong wind caused by typhoon Hato at a housing area in Hong Kong. Picture: Apple Daily via AP

AP


 

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